Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Miles to go but …

It must surely come as a relief to many that the long-drawn talks vis-à-vis the Naga issue is finally seeing an agreement between the Government of India (GoI) and the various Nagas groups. To be sure, there are still miles to go and in these miles there will be differences and hindrances but now that major contentious issues are agreed upon, it is expected the GoI and the Naga groups will continue to be patient, tolerant, matured and sagacious. This shouldn’t be too difficult as long as the interest and the welfare of the people are their top priority. Indubitably, the list of priorities is long but repair of the long decades of the people’s woes politically, economically, socially, culturally and psychologically must be addressed at the earliest ~ after all, any community’s, any nation’s primary resource and wealth are the people. Unfortunately, for far too long the people have been totally marginalized by all who claim to represent us in the overground, underground and middle-ground firmaments of the Naga narrative. Politics and power plays must never be allowed to become the fundamental lait motif of the people’s existence again ~ thereby becoming the bane of our existence. The people’s lives and living must now become the central theme of politics, economics and all matters pertaining to the people’s march towards progress. Although not many would agree but the agreement (though yet to be signed formally) between the GoI and the Naga groups could be perceived as freeing ourselves (or freedom) from ourselves ~ especially freeing ourselves (or freedom) from the fears that have haunted us for decades~ and most of these fears were real. Nagaland would not transform into Paradise instantly but given a conducive atmosphere and environment, we could make our land paradise-like. So, now it is for the people to take the task of taking forward this agreement. In the name of the Naga issue, in the name of identity, in the name of being unique, much harm have been done in terms of corruption, governance- and development-deficit but most of all the murder of justice and the rule of law ~ and all these we have done to ourselves. If we nurture high expectations of the new political dispensation(s) that would inevitably emerge now, it is also imperative that we must also have very high expectations of ourselves and get down to work. It has always been very convenient to blame the GoI and our state political leaderships ~ overground, underground and middle-ground ~ for all the woes that beset us but we must acknowledge our own roles and responsibilities for the deterioration we have brought upon ourselves and know that now unless we take the lead in shaping our present and future, no matter what, we will always be herded cattle. Since it has been reiterated repeatedly that sovereignty lies with the people all leadership must listen to the people and not compel the people to listen to it ~ as has been the norm so far. All power, especially political, constitutional, legal and economic, must be restored to the people ~ and definitely never enforced by the gun. After the final settlement, Nagaland’s Governor ~ and by extension the GOI ~ must fully focus on real issues of healing the festering wounds of people, good governance, development, which basically means rebuilding Nagaland. In the early years of statehood, a team of hand-picked and dedicated administrators, educationists, medical practitioners, engineers, etc, from across the country, in the form of the Indian Frontier Administrative Service (IFAS), were deployed to build Nagaland ~ it is once again imperative that similar exercise is re-introduced, at least for a few years till nation-building, so to speak, becomes a reflex action for us. The agreement between the GoI and the Naga groups on October 31, 2019, paves the way for another new beginning therefore it is also imperative that we rethink and revisit the ways we think, our biases, our prejudices and our beliefs because social justice and equality are also integral to achieve an acceptable level of development ~ more importantly democracy. Making something of ourselves, which would make the world sit up and notice is also crucial to secure and safeguard our identity, history, culture and heritage. The world today is far removed from the one we knew and insisted on living in ~ it is time we moved forward and embrace the world as it is now.